$750,000 Allocated to Expand History Colorado's Nationally Renowned Model for Collective Storytelling in Diverse Neighborhoods and Communities
A pair of grants and matching funds from History Colorado will help expand a growing resource for community strength and wellbeing throughout Colorado. h-co.org/memory | #HistoryColorado
EN ESPAÑOL | DENVER — Oct. 13, 2021 — As Coloradans conclude Latino Heritage Month, History Colorado and its partners are moving into an expanding future of embracing more voices, experiences, and places of Latino and Chicano people, along with others.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded two grants totaling $499,886 to support a comprehensive expansion of History Colorado’s Museum of Memory Initiative. Awarded in August and matched by $250,000 from History Colorado, the grants will fund several new projects in Southern Colorado and Denver.
History Colorado's Museum of Memory Initiative is becoming a national model for collaborative work to reanimate, center, and amplify histories that have long existed only in the margins. It creates opportunities for Colorado’s voices to collaborate in exploring their shared past on their own terms through memory workshops, collecting efforts, and community events. Projects are co-created on site in the neighborhoods and communities being explored, co-led by the individuals lending their knowledge and perspectives there. This work allows communities to bond with each other around the stories they share, making meaningful connections about their lives and where they live. More information about the Museum of Memory Initiative is available at h-co.org/memory along with outcomes like photos, videos, oral histories, poems, and maps.
An IMLS National Leadership Grant for Libraries of $250,000 will fund development of an archival framework created between History Colorado’s Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver and grassroots health-equity organizations supported by the Colorado Trust in Southern Colorado: Adelante San Luis in Costilla County, Antonito Together in Conejos County, and Avondale Resident Team in Pueblo County. This grant will facilitate a process led by communities to address their needs for preserving and keeping a record of their own history, placing their motivations and knowledge at the center of archival work. It will enable History Colorado and its partners to build a replicable model of inclusive practices that can be implemented in libraries, museums, and archives around the nation. Institutions anywhere can adapt the framework to meet the unique needs and challenges of underserved groups in their localities.
An additional IMLS Museums for America Grant, matched by History Colorado for a total investment in the work of almost $500,000, will fund learning conversations with communities about the impacts of past partnerships in their areas, two new Museum of Memory projects informed by those dialogues, and further exploration of how co-authored storytelling based on shared connections to culture and place can best support social vitality and wellbeing. San Luis, which is Colorado's oldest continuously inhabited town, will be the site of a youth-led initiative in partnership with Centennial School District. A new neighborhood memory project will also take place within Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood—one of the city’s most culturally diverse areas, where more than 70% of households include children under 18, that is undergoing some of the city’s most rapidly accelerating change—in partnership with the Sun Valley Kitchen and Community Center.
“The Avondale Resident Team has partnered with History Colorado’s El Pueblo History Museum for two years to preserve the history of Avondale, Colorado. The Museum of Memory project has brought to light a lot of old memories of our home, and ignited a spark in the community members who share their memories of Avondale knowing they will exist in the History Colorado archives,” said Lynn Soto, project coordinator with Avondale Resident Team. “We are excited to continue our work with the El Pueblo History Museum and their staff!” Ms. Kassi Robinson, Communications Specialist, added, “Our Memory Project is preserving the past to empower the future.”
“When I started the Museum of Memory many years ago, the goal was to learn and record the stories of people and communities who have long been erased or ignored in our larger historical narratives. I concentrated on Colorado places that were under threat from neglect, injustice, or unfettered development decisions,” said Dawn DiPrince, founder of the Museum of Memory Initiative and Executive Director of History Colorado. “Today, as knowledge and resources have flowed through more than ten projects now completed or currently underway, we can witness all of the incredible benefits to both our shared historical record and to the present and future lives and livelihoods of Coloradans. I am thrilled to see so many communities and funders embrace the beauty of this work.”
“As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.”
The news comes as History Colorado experiences growth throughout its network of museums and historic sites around the state, as well as its State Historic Preservation Office. As its audience for adult education programs doubled thanks to new forms of digital access, historycolorado.org’s traffic surged 18% in the year following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March of 2020, a period when traffic declined an average of 13% among its cultural peers across North America. The website then experienced its busiest month on record in April of 2021, when more than 79,000 users visited the site following the comprehensive digital release of data from Denver’s KKK Ledgers from the mid-1920s.
In October of 2020, the History Colorado Center in Denver became the first state history museum in the country to display a public monument toppled during the previous summer’s social unrest. Since March of 2021, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the IMLS have awarded nearly $650,000 to History Colorado’s partnership process with three tribes to create a long-term exhibit about the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. Ahead of its next grant round that will distribute $3 million or more for preservation projects across the state, the History Colorado State Historical Fund recently revised its grantmaking criteria to better support diversity, equity, and inclusion.
MUSEUM OF MEMORY EXHIBITS AND EVENTS
Salt Creek Memory Project| El Pueblo History Museum
This memory project brings together stories of life in Pueblo’s Salt Creek neighborhood during the 20th century. Led by El Pueblo History Museum in partnership with long-time residents, the goal of the Salt Creek Memory Project was to gather the collective memory of this census-designated place in Pueblo County, Colorado, through the collection of individual oral histories of life in the neighborhood.
Five Points Plus: Neighborhood Memory Project
Through October 31, 2021 | History Colorado Center
In conjunction with its Building Denver initiative, the History Colorado Center is hosting a Museum of Memory exhibit that showcases the human stories and collective memory of this important neighborhood. This project was developed in partnership with the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center along with Five Points community members and supported by the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library (Denver Public Library) and Manual High School. Built on narratives about living, working, and growing up in Five Points, it features a mural created by artist Adri Norris in partnership with residents, artifacts from a variety of different Five Points eras, and a sound installation featuring the voices of community storytellers. More info and advance tickets ($0–14) are available at historycoloradocenter.org.
History Colorado Community Engagement at the AASLH 2021 Online Conference
Through October 15, 2021
History Colorado staff members are leading and participating in several occasions at this year’s virtual conference of the American Association for State and Local History. Sessions include “Building Community Cohesion through Memory and Storytelling”, “Can Organizations Center Untapped Communities in Their Volunteer Strategy?”, and “What Strength in La Chicana: Colorado Activistas at the Forefront Then and Now”. More information is available at aaslh.org/2021onlineconference.
SPONSORS AND CREDITS
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant award numbers LG-250056-OLS-21 and MA-249670-OMS-21.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Image Credits: Avondale community members participating in a memory workshop with partners from History Colorado. Credit: Courtesy the Colorado Trust. Photo by Joe Mahoney; Students at Bruce Randolph School participating in oral-history training with History Colorado's Chief of Equity & Engagement, Marissa Volpe. Photo: History Colorado
About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 142-year-old institution that operates ten museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state.
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and nine other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.